Telluride Reserve

The first-ever Telluride Reserve, an wine and food event in Mountain Village is this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Telluride Reserve)

The Town of Mountain Village Owner’s Association (TMVOA) will host the inaugural Telluride Reserve Food and Wine Celebration this weekend, bringing some of the biggest names in food and wine to the Telluride area.

The event was designed to provide attendees with an intimate experience, meaning no big white tents, no crowds of people and no waiting in lines. At Telluride Reserve, attendees will interact directly with some of today’s most prominent food and wine experts.

“It’s really focused on providing a very high-end event of both food and wine with experts in the field that either are award-winning chefs, highly respected somms or highly respected winemakers coming and sitting down with you and talking,” said Anton Benitez, TMVOA president and CEO.

Telluride Reserve is the result of a study performed by TMVOA to support the vitality of the Mountain Village community.

“What we heard from a lot of the people that come here, as well as from people who live here, is it would be great if we had a really, really nice signature event that focused on food and wine,” Benitez said. “Something really high-end that could really meet the needs of this area.”

Telluride is lucky enough to have a plethora of knowledgeable food and wine professionals. Knowing that, TMVOA reached out to Stephen Roth and Andrew Shaffner of Telski for their culinary and wine expertise.

“Andrew and I were ecstatic to be included,” Roth said.

Roth and Shaffner have volunteered their time, offered their professional guidance and worked in a sort of pro bono style format with the TMVOA to design Telluride Reserve in a way that would stand out from other food and wine festivals.

“We did travel quite a bit and we looked at a lot of events,” Shaffner explained, noting that the group attended and researched New York City’s Wine and Food Festival, Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic, and Dallas’s Food and Wine Festival, along with a few others. “Our biggest takeaway was a lack of intimacy; a lack of real connection with people,” Shaffner said.   

The group started brainstorming on how to make the experience better.

“What if we got our talent, if we got these great James Beard award-winning and nominated chefs and master sommeliers and winemakers, what if we got them down off the stage? What if we got them out of the tents? What if we put them in a much more intimate setting?” Roth explained. “And that’s kind of how we came to where we are.”

The talent showcased at Telluride Reserve includes some big names,

“Executive chef Marc Murphy. Tim Mondavi. Carlo Mondavi. Rajat Parr,” Roth listed. “We have Jen Jasinski, who helped put Denver’s dining scene on the map when she won the James Beard award in 2003 for Rioja. Katy Millard is one of the hot, young chefs out of Portland, Oregon,” he added, along with food and wine veteran Evan Goldstien, and Roland Micu, the world’s youngest master sommelier.

Telluride Reserve kicks off Thursday evening with a sabrage welcome at the Peaks Resort & Spa.

“To saber means to remove the cork from a bottle of champagne with a saber, and so we’re going to teach people how to saber at the sabrage welcome,” Roth explained. “Charles Heidsieck is our sponsor. We have 30 cases of champagne for 200 guests. Almost half of our guests are the talent, so at the sabrage welcome, you’re going to get to join our talent.”

Friday and Saturday feature a series of small, specialized lunches in private homes throughout the village, where prominent chefs, winemakers and sommeliers will team up to offer guests a once in a lifetime experience.

“These menus are just like, wow, it’s really amazing that we’re going to pull this off here in Telluride,” Shaffner said. “We’re pulling off a lunch from a Michelin star chef right here in Telluride. That has literally never happened, but it’s happening this weekend.”

Shaffner explained that the lunches are unique in that attendees will actually interact with the chefs and wine professionals.

“We got the chefs out of the kitchen,” he said. “They’ll be in the kitchen, but they’re also going to come up and speak directly to you. Some of them may even sit down at a table with you for the lunch. It’s really, really interactive with the chefs and with the sommeliers as well.”

Roth agreed that the lunches are an exclusive opportunity for attendees.

“You’re not going to see Jen Jasinski and Vega Sicilia do a wine lunch again,” he said. “You’re not going to see Rajat Parr with Michelin star chef Daniel Patterson from San Francisco do a lunch together again.”

Beyond the intimate, interactive lunches, Friday and Saturday also include a wide variety of morning and afternoon education sessions.

“This is not going to be Wine 101, this is going to be Wine 201,” Roth said. “We are going to take your knowledge to the next level.”

Education sessions cover topics such as blind tasting, how wines age, wine pairing, specific wine varieties and terroir. Sessions are small and limited to 20-50 attendees each.

Friday also features a re-tasting of the wines included in the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the Judgement of Paris, where California shocked the wine world.

“French judges blind tasted California wines against classic French wines, Bordeaux and Burgundy, and California wines won in both categories,” Shaffner explained. “The amazing part, of course, was that these were some of the biggest experts in the wine industry. They were all French. And they chose California wines, in both the Cabernet and Chardonnay category. Pretty amazing stuff.”

He explained that re-tastings of the Judgment of Paris have only taken place four times since 1976; once in Paris, once in New York, once in San Fransisco and now here in Telluride.

Telluride Reserve events conclude Sunday with a special bon voyage champagne brunch, featuring Whispering Angel, among other wine labels.

“We think the Town of Mountain Village and the region of Telluride deserves an amazing event,” Roth said.

For more information on Telluride Reserve visit, telluridereserve.com.